In the world of social media, we witnessed Facebook continuing to grow despite facing data sharing transparency challenges. In retail, brands experimented with purchase and distribution options. And across all industries, privacy-related concerns kept consumers questioning their willingness to provide information about themselves.
Throughout the year, we saw a rise in digital media spend, which surpassed $100 billion for the first time. Marketing expenditures on mobile media and third-party data generation also increased in 2018.
During 2018, partnerships made media buying more efficient. Examples included Walt Disney and Google, Bing and LinkedIn (both part of Microsoft), Sirius and Pandora, Pandora and AdsWizz. Amazon, the giant among retail, partnered with Snapchat and Yext in two separate initiatives designed to drive business.
The search and social media marketing enhancements of 2018 were focused on a combination of user experience and enhanced monetization. Google and Bing launched longer-format ads. Meanwhile, Instagram and Snapchat introduced in-app shopping and Facebook tested “collections ads,” grouping together multiple advertisers to create product recommendations for consumers. Facebook also launched holiday overlays and augmented reality (AR) ads.
With a focus on media growth, efficiency, user experience and innovation, trends launched in 2018 are likely to endure into 2019. Here are six digital marketing predictions for the coming year.
1. The $2.6 Billion Subscription Market Will Continue to Grow
As legacy retail brands like Toys R Us shutter their stores, their competitors are recognizing the need for continual innovation. More and more brands will market and sell directly to consumers with subscription programs growing in popularity for both retailers and their customers.
2. Disappointing Digital Lead Quality Will Drive Increased Spend on Branded Lead Generation Products
Lead buyer frustration with low-converting shared leads will grow in 2019. As a result, marketer desire to purchase branded lead generation products will increase, even if that means the ability to filter audiences decreases. Lead buyers and lead sellers have been consolidating, and this trend is expected to continue throughout 2019. “The strong will survive and get rewarded for sticking through the tough times,” believes Joey Liner, CRO of Digital Media Solutions (DMS). “Companies like DMS,” Liner stated, “will gain a lot more market share because of their ability to offer a suite of high-quality offerings, including branded lead generation.”
3. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Chat Use Will Scale
Chat apps in social media became prevalent in 2018, but they were still difficult for the average company to leverage, according to Rachel Schulties, EVP of Managed Services at DMS. In 2019, Schulties believes we will begin seeing chat bots throughout all social platforms, and these chat bots will become a preference for consumer communication. For immediacy and efficiency, consumers and brands will transition quick-answer conversations, like order information and package tracking, to AI-driven chat bots, allowing for 24/7 customer service.
4. Online Content Will Improve as Some Brands Step Away from Content Creation
Content marketing has been hyped for years as an inexpensive method of driving organic traffic to websites. But with more than 4 million blog posts published on the internet every day, it’s becoming evident most content is seen by very few. While true thought leadership content marketers will continue to scale their efforts in 2019, some brands will cease their content creation. Specifically, brands that never invested heavily enough in the creation of high-quality content, and therefore didn’t benefit from their content marketing efforts, are likely to step away from content creation or seek third-party content marketing writers and strategists to boost their performance.
5. Social Media and Social Advertising Will Evolve to Enhance User Experiences & Further Monetize
Last year, the stories format became standard across social media platforms, including Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp. Additional new monetization-driven features, like AR and in-app shopping also grew in popularity. During 2019, social media platforms will encourage growth in their daily active user (DAU) bases by further enhancing user experiences and intertwining social use with daily life, including ecommerce purchases.
6. Consumers Will Share More Data than Ever While Debating the Need for Data Privacy
From paid search to social media to online lead generation, brands are competing to capture consumer attention. If anything, 2019 will be more challenging than years in the past, as audiences further diverge into niche-based portals. Like always, this year, brands that engage with their consumers and motivate them to take action will succeed. Innovation matters, but relevancy wins.